You may think there’s just one or two key employees who do it all when it comes to managing your accounting software, but that places an awfully big burden on those employees. What happens when they’re out sick? And given the vast amount of information housed in the accounting platform, are those “gatekeepers” constantly fielding requests from colleagues, leaving them less time to perform their core duties?
There’s a better, more efficient way, but it requires thinking through who needs access—and for what reason—before the need arises.
Consider Access During Implementation
Melinda Swann, lead accountant for XMI, says thinking about access comes up naturally when setting up new accounting software.
“Number of users and access requirements are one of the determining factors on the type of subscription the client will need,” she says. “This, in turn, plays a significant role in determining the cost of the subscription, implementation and training.”
When switching from a basic accounting system, maybe even one cobbled together with a variety of free tools, additional costs for user licenses can be a deterring factor. The sticker shock could lead some decisionmakers to go the single- or dual-user route.
When doing an implementation, one of Swann’s jobs is discussing the benefits of expanding access to a greater number of employees.
“Knowledge is power, and the employees’ ability to gain that knowledge on their own serves not only to relieve an information bottleneck that could result from allowing only a single gatekeeper, but also to empower employees to research and gain insights into their areas of the business,” she says.
While implementation is the best time to onboard users, Swann says adding and training new users can happen anytime, such as when new employees join the company, roles get shifted among current staff, or after your reading this article and deciding that, yes, more employees need access.
Overcoming security concerns
While older systems may have had less flexibility, today’s accounting platforms, such as the Sage Intacct cloud accounting software that many of XMI’s outsourced accounting clients utilize, feature controls that can allow varying levels of access.
“Empowerment has to be weighed against the need for keeping certain information confidential,” Swann says. “Fortunately, it is possible to give Intacct users as much or as little access as management believes is necessary or beneficial.”
Identifying workers who need access
Employees in the accounting department are a given. But who else might need access—and for what reasons? Swann recommends thinking about the following roles when determining access rights for your accounting software:
- Operations or project managers may need access to dashboards or other reports. They might need to review project status, approve employee expenses and bills (accounts payable), or invoices (accounts receivable) for their departments.
- HR personnel may need access to update employee records or process payroll in organizations that utilize Time & Expense modules.
- Granting auditors view access can save time and money by allowing them to drill into the supporting documentation for their test transactions.
- Customer service representatives or front-line staff who have access to client account information can provide better, faster service by not having to request information from accounting.
- Sales teams could use their access to view client information and account status.
- Finally, all employees might need access to report time and expenses.
Swann adds that every company is different, and a variety of factors, including cost and security, can impact a company’s decision to expand or limit access to accounting software.